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Ellen Kok

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Website 1
Linschoten, the Netherlands, and Drewsville, New Hampshire, USA

On this page I will show recent work. This is a selection from my photo story Farewell, With Elegance, about the annual Apple Blossom Cotillion in Springfield, Vermont, USA. A mixture of a formal debutante ball, a contest, and a fundraiser for the local hospital, it is a rite of passage for senior high school girls, who present themselves to their community during a dance show the first weekend of May. For the first time in its 64 year old history, the show had to be cancelled because of the corona pandemic. I wanted to know why American girls today continue to take part in an old-fashioned pageant like Apple Blossom. For three winters I went to the Sunday dance rehearsals, from January until May.

As a photographer and writer I often combine photo essays with written stories. I firmly believe storytelling is an important art, that can open eyes and connect people. My photography is based on trust and intimacy.

I studied at the School for Journalism in Utrecht, the Netherlands, before working as a photography critic for several Dutch newspapers and photography magazines and as a freelance photographer. 

In recent years I have been working mainly on long-term documentary projects, which all revolve around the lives of young people. They are among the most vulnerable members of our society, and how we treat them says a great deal about our culture.

I am based in Linschoten, the Netherlands, and Drewsville, New Hampshire, USA, where I completed my most recent books Cadets and The Other Farm, and am working on one more, American Moments. I do my own production and self-publish under my imprint Netherlight.

Accolades and exhibitions:

My first book, School, was chosen one of the best photography books in the 2004 Photo Annual of the American magazine Photo District News.

Cadets was a Critical Mass 2011 and 2012 Finalist, and was accepted into CENTER Review Santa Fe 2012. Photos from the book were on display in solo exhibitions: in 2013 at the National Education Museum in Dordrecht, the Netherlands; and at Photoville 2015 in New York, NY.

Photos from The Other Farm were on show in 2015 in a solo exhibition at the Stadsmuseum in Woerden, the Netherlands. The book won a Silver Award in the P×3 Prix de la Photographie Paris 2016, in the category Professional Documentary Book.

I am available for assignments in the Netherlands and the USA.


Documentary, Journalism, Landscape